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Negro Colleges in Wartime

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Negro Colleges in Wartime

Published ca. 1944

Education and training of African Americans as part of the World War II effort.

Run time 8:16
Producer U.S. Office of War Information, Bureau of Motion Pictures
Sponsor U.S. Office of War Information
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W


Needed for war production, African-Americans are shown being trained and educated at traditionally Black colleges.

African-American soldiers and sailors in uniform on campus. Aircraft flying classes. African-American students and scientists in laboratories. African-American women taking an automotive repair class are shown changing a car tire. Unusual footage of African-American women in laboratories, engineering study and other science/technical fields; also farm management. African-Americans involved in the study of agricultural production and animal husbandry are shown. Study of meteorology, the chemistry of explosives, medicine, radio communications, surveying and topography.

Booker T. Washington (statue)


Reviewer: The_Emperor_Of_Television - favoritefavoritefavorite - November 25, 2013
Subject: Oh god, "The Emperor of Television" is posting another of his useless reviews. This is not good
Not that anyone cares, but this short film was shown on CBS-TV's New York City station (WCBW at the time) on 1 December 1944. While not produced for television, it nevertheless represents an early example of televised content. The other programs on WCBW for that night were "At Home" (a variety show), "December in New York" (a fashion show), "The Battle for the Marianas" (film), and "Will You Remember?" (a music show. The episode is question featured a singer playing the character of a woman whose husband overseas due to the war).

In order for me to post this review, I watched this short film. It's no better and no worse than I was expecting it to be.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavorite - November 20, 2003
Subject: Take out "Negro" and what do you get?
A good overview of how the negro students were being trained for wartime. It's actually amazing to me, when I think about it now, about how non-integrated schools were and how black people were supposed to go to schools as this. Anyways, really good footage of Muskagee airmen training, and other training as well. But again, if you put a "white person" instead of the "black person" in, the doc would be pointless. Here, it stands as a curious exploitation of the black people and how the white person is saying, "See! they're not as stupid as you think!". Or maybe I'm reading way too much into this.
Reviewer: Robert Penn - favoritefavoritefavorite - April 17, 2003
Subject: Refined Propaganda
This film gives me greater insight into my parents' generation. Both were in Negro colleges in the late 30's/early 40's and certainly were inculcated with a patriotism that is reflected herein. My late father was a WWII veteran, serving as a chaplain to the segregated Negro troops.

On the one hand, this film gives me the joy to see Black people of my parents' generation engaged in intelligent and socially responsible activities. These everyday Negroes are rarely seen in popular images of the time. On the other hand, so much promise is imbued in the narration's subtext: Promise of winning the war; Promise of being equal citizens. But the producer wasn't foolish enough to make explicit promises so no one could hold the producer to its word.

The military produced the film to recruit Negroes into the service. Period.
Reviewer: Lewis Payne - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 13, 2003
Subject: Negro Colleges in Wartime
Fascinating little film offering an amazing attitude toward African American college institutes during the second world war. At no point does the narrator mention anything about race; the only thing about that is in the title of the film, and perhaps also in the monument to Booker T. Washington outside Tuskegee College. While Washington advocated the teaching only of manual labour to the recently emancipated African slaves, here we see students training to be chemists (for chemical warfare, funnily enough), doctors, pilots, architects etc. One interesting snippet is of nutrition students doing research into the use of soy as a replacement for meat and milk. Of course, one must remember that this was all in aid of the war effort, so it's no civil rights classic.
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